This morning, TVNZ announced what we’ll all be watching in 2021. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ve got to look forward to, assuming we’re still here next year.
The Brokenwood Mysteries
OK, let’s get the biggie out of the way first: The Brokenwood Mysteries is jumping from Prime to primetime, baby! Brokenwood travels to TVNZ1 for its seventh season to give us (and its huge French fanbase) more picturesque murders.
My pick and the one to definitely watch out for is Creamerie, a dystopian comedy series from the team behind Flat 3 and Friday Night Bites. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic future where a viral plague has wiped out 99% of men (god, if only) and Earth has become a planet run by and for women (ditto). Two other new dramas include Vegas, an action thriller set in Rotorua about a young man trying to free his people from the curse of meth, and The Panthers, which is based on the Polynesian Panther movement of the 1970s.
On the funnier side of things, sisters Eve and Grace Palmer are behind new webseries Good Grief, about two sisters who inherit a funeral home after their koro passes away. The Fricken Dangerous Bro lads are coming with a new show called, appropriately, Fricken Dangerous Bro on the Road. And just in case you’re bored of 7 Days but love a panel show format, there’s a new one that will pit comedians from Australia and New Zealand against each other, the punnily titled Patriot Brains.
International acquisitions by TVNZ include It’s a Sin, which follows eight queer men in 1980s Britain, Angela Black, a psychological thriller starring Joanne Froggat (one of the Downton maids) and Coyote, a drama about a border guard gone rogue.
The old hats
Shows that are returning for another series are, in quick-fire fashion:
- Wellington Paranormal, funny cop show that must feel real weird to make in 2021
- One Lane Bridge, unfortunately not called Two Lane Bridge
- Have You Been Paying Attention?, once again asking what has to be a rhetorical question from 90% of the people who ask it
- Shortland Street, a harrowing drama about New Zealand’s most mismanaged hospital
- Kura, a webseries about a guy trying to get out of his dead-end life in Papakura
- My Life is Murder, a Lucy Lawless show where her life is, yes, murder
- Home and Away, proof that bad things can happen to tanned people
- Coronation Street, a show with more than one street and zero coronations
- David Attenborough’s A Perfect Planet, an incredibly spitefully titled show
- Killing Eve, which should be retitled Yet to Kill Eve
- Late Night Big Breakfast, too Leigh too Hart
The real life stories
TVNZ1 is reestablishing its hold on your parents’ Sunday nights with “1 Premiere Stories”, which aims to uncover the people behind some of New Zealand’s most well-known events. These stories are:
- Centrepoint, a doco about the commune/cult of the same name
- When A City Rises, a follow-up to the famous Christchurch documentary When A City Falls, which followed the Christchurch earthquakes
- The Tender Trap, a drama about Sharon Armstrong, the woman who got caught with 5kg of cocaine in her suitcase while travelling from Buenos Aires
- Six Angry Women, a doco about six women who carried out one of the most audacious direct feminist actions of all time
- Whina, a biopic about Dame Whina Cooper
- They Shall Not Grow Old, the 2018 WW1 documentary from Peter Jackson
The other (fun) real-life stories
The Spinoff’s reality maven Tara Ward has kindly shared her takes on TVNZ’s factual programming slate with us, and by proxy, you all.
The Great Kiwi Bake Off: “The news that the nicest show on TV is coming back in 2021 should tickle your ladyfingers and warm the chocolate éclair cockles of your heart. GKBO will return on a new channel (TVNZ 1, which is like TVNZ 2, but different), bringing hundreds of pastry swans and thousands of lamington balls to a newer, older audience. It’ll be moist, but in a good way.”
The Bachelorette NZ and The Bachelor NZ: “Gird your loins and recline saucily upon the polyester bedspread of your wildest dreams, because next year TVNZ wants us to fall in love with love. They’re hitting us with not one but two versions of the reality TV love juggernaut, which is our reward for getting through 2020 and for realising that Lily and Lesina’s season of The Bachelorette only finished in March this year. That’s eight months ago, even though it feels like 3,000 years and 25 lifetimes, but what is time compared to finding true love on the telly? Get ready for two bumper seasons of awkward pashes, uncomfortable group dates and more roses than you can shake a pair of low-crotch pants at.“
Celebrity Treasure Island: “Matty McLean better get his chance at redemption in 2021, or I will riot.”
Travel Guides NZ: “The borders are closed and we’re being told to “do something good, New Zealand”, which means there’s no better time for Travel Guides NZ. This fly-on-the-wall travel series turns ordinary people into travel critics, sending small groups of family and friends around the country to review our most iconic tourist attractions. What could go wrong?“
The Apprentice Aotearoa: “Don’t let the name fool you, The Apprentice Aotearoa is pretty much the same as The Apprentice NZ. Fired after one lonely season back in ye olde 2010, The Apprentice has been invited back into 2021’s boardroom in the hope of finding the next titan in New Zealand business. “
Carlos’ Reno Rescue: “And I quote: “Carlos Spencer is picking up the tools in Carlos’ Reno Rescue”. Who asked for this? Show yourselves.”
Moving Houses: “Clarke Gayford transports homes from one end of the country to the other. Is it risky for the partner of the prime minister to host a show about housing during a housing crisis? Hard to say, but chainsaw a house in half and chuck it on the back of a truck and you’ve just bought yourself a ratings winner.”
National Treasures: “Scotty and Stacey Morrison take an emotional journey to discover the stories behind New Zealand’s most cherished objects. Speaking of cherished objects, can we please put Scotty and Stacey Morrison on every show, all the time? Bloody love them.”
The Walkers: “In 2020, Stan Walker released a powerful autobiography, and in 2021, he’s making a TV show with his whānau.”
Anika Moa Reunited: “Anika Moa did incredible work in 2019 by resurrecting True Bliss, and now the singer, songwriter and presenter is on a mission to reunite more of New Zealand’s favourite bands. Maybe one day she’ll manage to reunite Chris Warner and Victor Kahu to perform their Christmas rap, but maybe some dreams are just never meant to be.”
Two shows worthy of their own heading: first up, The Walkers, a raw, entertaining and unfiltered look into the lives of Stan Walker and his whānau. If his book is any indication, this will be a must-watch.
On the other hand, Scribe: Return of the Crusader will be a documentary that lays bare the rapper’s personal journey through addiction and recovery. It will also follow him as he works on his first album in 13 years.
If you’re one of those people who still gets their news from a television screen at an appointed time, rather than on your phone constantly, every second of the day, then never fear: TVNZ will continue to provide for you in 2021.
1 News has not been cancelled, because there is still news in the world. It will be supported in its news-telling endeavours by Breakfast, Midday, Te Karere, Seven Sharp, Tonight, Q+A, Fair Go, Sunday, Marae and Tagata Pasifika. The news! There’s always a lot of it.
I know very little about sports, but I understand that TVNZ will be broadcasting some of them this year, including the 36th America’s Cup, a summer of cricket including T20 international men’s and women’s series and the Super Smash competition. The T20 Black Clash will also return in January, and assuming the world hasn’t been wiped out by a pandemic, the Olympics and Paralympics coverage is scheduled for mid-2021. Godspeed, sports.
Thank The Vixen for the one constant in this world: The Chase, as well as Beat the Chasers, will be watched by a million New Zealanders on the reg in 2021.
Open big, close big: Yes, Popstars is coming back.
Look, this deserves its own heading because Popstars aka the show that brought us True Bliss is coming back, with Kimbra serving as the superstar mentor. I have only excited questions: what on earth does Popstars look like in 2021? Will they TikTok? Will they make PC music or Soundcloud rap? Where will Jo Cotton be?
All this, and more, in 2021.
Watch all of these shows on TVNZ1, TVNZ2 or TVNZ on Demand at some stage in 2021.